Youth Olympic Games notes
Nanjing, China, August 16, 2014 - With the start of competition less than a day away, the athletes and coaches spent time here Saturday preparing for the opening pool play matches for both men and women while ending the evening at the opening ceremonies.
The 90-minute Opening Ceremony was the "first serve" for the Beach Volleyball athletes and coaches at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Stadium as China hosts 12 days of youth and sport celebration. A crowd of more than 60,000 people witnessed the ceremony attended by Chinese President XI Jinping and IOC president Thomas Bach.
The opening ceremony formalities of the flag procession included Beach Volleyball participants and country flag bearers Lisa Arnholdt of Germany, Santeri Siren of Finland, Rendy Vedian Licardo of Indonesia, Seraphine Mukantambara of Rwanda, Diana Noel of Saint Lucia, Rodell Fraser of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Loluama Eti of Tuvalu and Loti Joe of Vanuatu.
While Arnholdt and Sarah Schneider will be seeking their second FIVB youth medal this season after placing second two weeks ago at the under-19 world championships in Portugal, Eti and her partner Valisi Salalia will become Tuvalu’s first-ever participate in a FIVB-sanctioned Beach Volleyball event.
With 144 men and women players entered in the nine days of Beach Volleyball competition, there will be 114 matches per gender. The five days of pool play matches for both men and women participants ends Friday. The top four teams from each group advance to the single-elimination bracket rounds starting next Sunday.
The women’s semi-final and medal matches will be played August 26 followed by the men’s “final four” matches August 27 at the 2,000-seat Beach Volleyball venue at the Nanjing Sports Park Complex.
During the competition, four former Beach Volleyball Olympians will be coaching teams during the Youth Games where the sport is being held for the first-time. The Beach Volleyball Olympians at the Nanjing Sports Park Complex are Mariano Baracetti (2000, 2004 and 2008) of Argentina, Barbra Fontana (1996) of the United States, Andrea Raffaelli (2000) of Italy and Penggen Wu (2008 and 2012) of China.
“It is amazing to be here with all of the young athletes,” said Fontana, who placed fourth at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics with Linda Hanley. “Events like this along with the FIVB’s four world championships for younger athletes is a benefit for up and coming athletes. Back when I started playing Beach Volleyball, we did not have the opportunity to play internationally. The IOC and the FIVB have done a great job in helping develop young Beach athletes.”
Fontana, who won five FIVB World Tour events while competing in 10 international finals with 17 podium placements and 31 “final four” finishes during her 13-season international career, is coaching the American women’s team of Skylar Caputo and Susannah Muno.
Baracetti, who played 14 seasons on the FIVB World Tour with seven gold medal finishes highlighted by a world championship title with Martin Conde in 2001, is coaching both the men’s and women’s teams of Santiago Aulisi/Leandro Aveiro and Camila Hiruela/Irene Varasio for Argentina.
Wu, who was part of the only Chinese men’s team to win a FIVB World Tour gold medal with Linyin Xu as the pair combined for two titles, eight appearances in finals, 12 podiums and 15 semi-finals during his 10-season career, is coaching the host country pair of Jiaxi Wang/Lvwen Yuan. Raffaelli, one of the first Italians to play regularly on the FIVB circuit, is coaching Irene Enzo and Michela Lantignotti.
Here are other facts and figures about the Youth Olympics.
• A total of 52 National Organizing Committees will have teams competing in the Beach Volleyball competition at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
• The youngest players are:
• The oldest players are:
• Birthdays during the competition.
• Average Age
• Average Height
• Tallest Players
• Shortest Players
• The Youth Olympics are the 31st “world-wide” FIVB-sanctioned event for men’s and women’s Beach Volleyball players under the age of 23.